Kaige Chen builds upon his previous film and delivers a magnificent fantasy/mystery. The plot is laid out step by step, progressing calmly and deliberately, but it's the visuals that blew me away. The shoddy CG is kept to a minimum this time around, the rest is simply eye-wateringly beautiful.
The good stuff
Monk Comes Down the Mountain is above all a very amusing film. Chen made a light-hearted, fun and playful little romp, which rises above itself thanks to its tremendous production value.
A nice and solemn little drama about a teacher moving to a small mountain commune in order to tutor the local kids. The pacing is rather slow, but the setting is beautiful, the cinematography is on point and the actors do a solid job. The token social critique isn't very subtle, but the film had enough other qualities to keep me engaged.
There's a lot of flag-waving and chest-thumping going on here, but look past that and you'll find a decent anthology celebrating the achievements of the little people, helmed by some of China's prime directors. It was a little too sentimental and overdone in places, but it wasn't as terrible as I had initially feared it would be.
Worthy but flawed
A decent but very predictable drama. Performances are all over the place, the plot isn't all that interesting and characters remain quite stereotypical. It's not a terrible film though and Chen's baseline quality shines through from time to time, but I expected more from this film. Decent filler, nothing more.